Session 2 Week 3

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The third week of the legislature was about as normal as you will ever find during the session. Bills were heard in all committees and the Floor debates were lively and productive with some interesting topics being discussed and voted on.

The House Ag & Natural resources committee heard bills this week that all dealt with the Game Fish and Parks agency. HB 1075 was the most controversial bill because essentially the committee, made of elected Representatives, was making a decision about moving some waterfowl hunting licenses to some north central counties in the state from some south central counties. These decisions are normally made by the Game Fish and Parks commission who is composed of citizens appointed by the Governor but they derive their authority from the Legislature and therefore I feel we are well within our scope of action even though it’s not the “normal” way things are done when dealing with wildlife issues. HB 1075 passed the committee by 9-3 and went on to pass the full House by 36-32 and will move over to the Senate.

House Education did not meet this past week due to the fact that there were no bills waiting to be heard until it was too late in the week to schedule them. However by the time you read this there will be more than enough bills to hear dealing with topics like limiting the hours of instructional time that may be spent administering tests (HB 1118) and one that gives you the parents the authority to exempt your child from tests administered by the state if done so within 180 days of the beginning of the school year (HB 1096)

Another interesting thing that I wanted to talk about was Law enforcement, and use of force training.

Last weekend I was privileged to do my first law enforcement ride along with a good friend of mine who is a deputy sheriff in Pennington County. It was a good time and gave me a glimpse into the career of law enforcement. As he began his shift I watched my friend don his bullet proof vest and when we got into the patrol car he explained to me where the first aid kit was, how to call for help on the radio and most seriously how to release the AR-15 from its security clamps in the crazy, but unfortunately possible, scenario I needed to return fire to defend him or myself. Nothing crazy happened while I was riding along; a gas drive off, which was an oversight and later the man came back and paid, a rollover accident that was more comical than an accident. (A gentleman was on a logging trail in the Hills and slide off the icy road in his off-road jeep and dumped the oil out of the engine and transmission); two hours of watching my friend write a report on a DUI from the night before; and the busting up of an underage drinking party. It all sounds fairly simple and almost funny, but sitting through the shift briefings highlighted the very real danger our law enforcement face every day as the shift sergeant talked about a very creepy situation some deputies were in the night before with what appeared to be a property break in but they soon felt it may simply be an attempt to monitor their response times and tactics.

This experience was still fresh in my mind this past Wednesday when the Attorney General opened the Law Enforcement Training Academy to Legislators and held a charity shoot at their indoor firearms training ranges to raise money for 1st Circuit CASA, and this year Representative Kaiser’s son Jaxson who is battling cancer. The live shooting is fun but what was most interesting was the use of force training simulator which puts a person in the shoes of an officer responding to a myriad of calls, everything from a domestic disturbance to a very disturbingly realistic school shooting and the instructor can change details in each scenario to keep the officers on their toes. You have a training taser and pistol and you watch a scenario. As the simulator plays through you have to make the split second decisions to use no force, none lethal, or lethal force. It’s very intense and a great way to help officers make decisions without putting their lives in danger.

In this day and age it seems to be popular to hate on law enforcement in major cities. Be thankful we live in a state that has some of the most dedicated and best trained law enforcement officers in the nation. When you see them go out of your way to thank them for what they do.